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The Perfect Getaway: The Oaks Spa in Ojai

Do you ever have the desire to go to a place where you can do nothing at all except relax, or perhaps do something active and enjoyable all day long? If you’re in California (or headed there), you may want to add The Oaks at Ojai to your plans.

Oaks at Ojai pool at sunset

We just spent a few nights there, and managed to relax and be active simultaneously. The Oaks at Ojai is a small, family-owned spa right in the middle of downtown Ojai. Does that mean it’s busy or noisy? Just the opposite, as Ojai is a mellow town of only 8,000 people. Our totally unscientific guess is that 5,000 of them are artists, and the other 3,000 are hikers and bicyclists.

In just two days, we did the following:

Skin Authority Fit & Firm Treatments (Fit & Firm for Fun & Fit – perfect)
Bike Riding on a path that leads all the way to the ocean at Ventura

A sunset meditation on Mount MeditationMount Meditation, Ojai
Fitness classes (ever tried Glow in the Dark Qi Gong?)
Had 3 meals a day prepared to our specific diet
Walked downtown
Played Bingo (though we didn’t win the muffins, dang it)
Made new friends
Visited Bart’s Bookstore (which leaves books outdoors at night – you pay on the honor system)
Bart's Books in Ojai
Lost a little weight
Hiked the Valley View Preserve (with absolutely stunning panoramic views)Ojai Valley midday

We even met a woman who was leaving after a 3-week stay. She said she wanted a place to recuperate and make new friends after going through knee surgery and rehab. Once she got there, she didn’t want to leave. So she didn’t.

We didn’t want to leave either, but it was time to go to L.A. to celebrate our mom’s 86th birthday. The drive to L.A. is just over an hour. From where we live in Santa Barbara it’s only a 45 minute drive, so we’ll be back. Heck, I need to put my brand new bike lock to use, though I never actually locked my bike while we were there. I just parked it in the private patio garden at our bungalow.Oaks at Ojai bedroom in bungalow

Let us know when you’re headed to The Oaks at Ojai. We’ll try to come down and join you for a walk or swim or bike ride or massage or meal or retail therapy. Bike riding at Oaks at Ojai

Alexandra Williams, MA

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We were not paid to write this post. We were invited guests of the Oaks at Ojai for 2 nights, and boy did we appreciate their hospitality. So much so that I even taught the guests the “Thriller” dance (insert wolf howl right here).


3 Seated Abs Exercises, plus Pretty Photos from Mexico

While teaching for a week at Rancho la Puerta Spa in Tecate, Mexico I managed to find a few spots that had wifi so I could share some abdominal moves on video.

swing at Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, MexicoThe three videos were done in real time via my Periscope account (if you have a Twitter account, you can get a Periscope account), but I saved them so that I could share them now with all of you. They are in portrait mode because Periscope isn’t yet set up for landscape mode, but the info is still 100% legit at any angle!

This video is the perfect place to start if you’re new to a stability ball or just want to ease into ab work:

This video adds an extra element to the video above:

This one adds the challenge of lifting your feet and moving your arms:

As it’s about a kabillion degrees IN THE SHADE here in Santa Barbara, my brain is melted, so I have no clever words. Instead, you get lovely photos from my trip to Tecate, including a BONUS photo of the beach where I grew up – Hermosa Beach. That makes this entire post worth its price – which is zero, of course, but still….

Welcome to Tecate sign

Playboy barber shop in Tecate, Mexico

park bench in Tecate, Mexico

sculpture at art museum in Tecate, Mexico


statue of woman behind a gate at Rancho la Puerta Spa

pool and cabana

wagon in a field of flowers

grove of trees in morning light

helicopter flying over lifeguard tower at the beachPlease follow me on Periscope for travel and fitness scopes (videos): I am at AlexandraFunFit.

As I’m trying to finance our medical coverage (we are no longer covered by work), I’d appreciate your input. I’m thinking of making note cards from some of my photos and selling them. Do you recommend this? If so, any suggestions where to sell them (besides Etsy)? Thanks.

by Alexandra Williams, MA



Global Wellness Day

Global Wellness Day is a day to encourage living well. This year it’s on June 13th. The meaning behind it isn’t to celebrate living a high-cost life; it’s to bring attention to living a life of balance and well-being.  Founded by Belgin Aksoy of Richmond Nua Wellness-Spa in Turkey, it will be celebrated this year in more than 30 countries on six continents.

Richmond Nua Wellness Spa, Istanbul

Richmond Nua Wellness Spa, Turkey/ Photo credit: Richmond Nua Wellness Spa

At the recent ISPA (lots of spas all in one place, treating us like royalty) event in Beverly Hills, I got a chance to chat with Frank Pitsikalis, Founder and CEO of ResortSuite and one of two Canadian Ambassadors for Global Wellness Day. He told me that it’s a way to complement the traditional health care system in a way that focuses on prevention rather than treatment. “So much of our health care is tertiary, meaning we try to treat a problem after it’s already occurred. Global Wellness Day is looking at primary, preventive care. Why not lead lives that help prevent illness and doctor visits? Life is moving at a record pace, and this is a day to remind and inspire people to live a little more consciously, and turn living well into a way of life.”

Woman meditating sculptureSince the goal of the campaign is to spread awareness about the holistic benefits of exercise, healthy nutrition, and mental and emotional wellness, we are all for shouting (in a calming way) it from the spa rooftops. Or something like that. On Saturday, the Global Wellness day ambassadors want you to ask yourself this question, “”How can I live a healthier and better life?”

Pick a card, any card. Do you want to improve your eating habits? Your exercise habits? Your spiritual well-being? Your relationships? What would be the ONE thing you could do on Saturday to live a healthier, better life? Maybe one of the 7 steps recommended by Aksoy:

Walk one hour daily
Drink more water
Eat organic, locally sourced produce
Give up plastic bottles
Do a good deed
Eat a family dinner
Go to bed by 10pm

living centerpieces from FarmBox

Living Centerpieces

One of our favorite wellness women, Deborah Szekely, co-founder of Rancho la Puerta resort in Tecate, Mexico, says that having a day dedicated to the benefits of wellness is like having a calling card; it’s an introduction to something enticing that will get you hooked.

We agree with that sentiment. Once you get in the habit of feeling good, dare we say great, in your own body, you will be hooked on a life of wellness.

While we haven’t been (yet) to Istanbul to visit Richmond Nua Wellness-Spa, we definitely have a few spa resorts to recommend. Our faves:

Rancho la Puerta – Tecate, Mexico

Aqua Class at Glen Ivy

Aqua Class at Glen Ivy

Glen Ivy Hot Springs – Corona, California

Now THAT'S  a scenic hike!

Scenic hike at Tenaya Lodge/  Photo credit: Tenaya Lodge

Tenaya Lodge – Yosemite, California
Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program – Rochester, Minnesota
Anschutz Health and Wellness Center – Denver, Colorado

More to the point, we hope YOU will call your local spa and find out if they’re offering any free or discounted activities or treatments on Saturday. You can also head over to the Global Wellness Day Facebook page and get inspired.
Live it up this Saturday. While you’re at it, Well it up, Relax it up, and Kale it up (heh heh)!
Be well.

Turkish Bath/ Photo credit: Richmond Nua Wellness Spa

Turkish Bath/ Photo credit: Richmond Nua Wellness Spa

Speaking of healthy living, we want to give a well-massaged thumbs up to Rancho la Puerta, sponsors of our TransformAging Webinar: For Women Over 45 Who Don’t Want to Just Grow Old, But Intend to Age Actively! Six videos with accompanying slides, eight experts, hundreds of hot tips on aging INTO health, not out of it. Click here to learn more and order your set.

Rancho la puerta

by Alexandra Williams, MA


If Calories and Exercise Don’t Control Your Weight, What Does?

Swig From This Fountain of Truth

As children, we learned about Ponce de León and the mythical Fountain of Youth. But did you know it actually exists? Not in a creepy, Dorian Gray way either. Every town, every home, and every person has access to the fountain; it’s just known under a different name now. The Fountain of Youth’s true name is …

Boomer Woman On Lake


Ah, ah, ah, don’t get discouraged by that word. You probably thought “easy” when you read “fountain of youth,” and “hard” when you read “exercise.” But what if the path to exercise was much easier than you thought? What if moving and eating better and more appropriately for our midlife years were as easy as the not-so-helpful habits you currently have?Connie (or Coco) stretching at Rancho la Puerta

Our TransformAging Webinar Summit is ready to go, and you’re invited to join our 8 experts for this 6-video series that will get you slapping your forehead and saying, “Gee, I could’ve had a V8 restarted my fitness years ago if I’d realized it wouldn’t be so overwhelming.”

Tips from TransformAging to Transform You

Look below for a few hot tips in the ol’ town tonight that come from the various TransformAging sessions. You’ll get solutions and antidotes for all the Fit Facts below. But first, a few quiz questions to whet your Fountain of Youthiness thirst and appetite:

  1. At what age does muscle mass peak? The answer may surprise you.
  2. Do you have a “Stay Fat” or “Stay As You Are” strategy that keeps you stuck?
  3. And as the title of this post asks, “if calories and exercise are not controlling your weight, what is?” huh? huh? Gotta attend the webinar to find out. Or google it. Be that way!
  4. What is the actual cost of free radicals? Yes, they affect you, inside and out.
  5. If you want youthful skin, you have 9 actions under your control. How many of those 9 things are you doing, if any?
  6. Are you better off doing seated or standing exercises as you get older?
  7. Which gender averages more years (almost 9) spent in illness, especially in our older years?

Older, active woman on a swing

Choose One Action: Register or Regret

If you don’t want to be that person spending the last 8 to 9 years of your life ill and in pain, then register for this TransformAging Summit. (If you don’t want to be the caretaker for that person then our webinar series is for you and your loved one).  The sooner you take the steps to age actively, the better your upcoming years will be.

So step up to some more of those Fit Facts from the Summit, we say!

  • If you’re not losing fat, you’re losing muscle
  • Cardio makes you smaller, while resistance training training reshapes you
  • Did you know that each chronic condition you have reduces life expectancy by 1.8 years!?
  • We become more sensitive to carbs as we age, so need to decrease sugar and starch
  • Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger cues
  • Sleep resets hunger hormones, and decreases cortisol levels
  • As we age, we are eating too much, even though we may be eating less than in our younger years
  • Your plan for success needs to be at least as detailed as your plan for failure
  • You have a reason for NOT making change


In case you didn’t have a chance to read our post giving all the info about the TransformAging Webinar, we’ll list the six video titles again so you can see just how tremendous this FREE (on 6/03 & 6/04) summit is:

  1. (Re)Starting Fitness After 50 (This one’s ours)
  2. Resistance Training: Your After-50 Easy Weight Management Program (Debra Atkinson MS)
  3. Midlife Weight Gain, Hormones, and Menopot: Strategies for Staying Slim Without Losing Your Sanity (Tamara Grand PhD)
  4. Supplementation and Skincare to Transform Aging Inside & Out: What’s Really Needed? (Mo Hagan BSc PT)
  5. Age Be Damned: 7 Dimensions of Active Aging (Colin Milner)
  6. Never Grow Old! Strategies for Making the NEXT 50 years BETTER than the first! (Dan Ritchie, Phd and Cody Sipe Phd)

Register Right Here – It Costs you $000000 (that’s zero multiplied) for the live broadcast this Wednesday and Thursday at 2:30 pm PDT. And don’t worry – if you cannot watch all six at their original broadcast times, you can get them later for a teeny, tiny payment that’s lower than you’d pay for just one of the workouts Debra Atkinson provides in her session. And put all the money you just saved into the vacation kitty for your future dream trip to Rancho la Puerta spa, a health and wellness retreat just east of San Diego. The Perfect Place for People who want to age actively!

Thank you Rancho la Puerta for sponsoring our TransformAging Summit! You sure know how to make a person feel good!Rancho la puertaNow go register. Listen at your leisure.

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


Transforming Ourselves Inside and Out

You SAY you want to start again with a fitness program that is tailored to your midlife body; that you intend to move more often, though comfortably; that you’d love to be strong enough to enjoy the second half of life even more than the first. You now have the chance to put your money where your menopot is!

We recently told you about our TransformAging Webinar Summit for Women Over 45, which is only a week away, on June 3 and 4 starting at 5:30 pm EST/2:30pm PT and accessible for 48 hours at no cost.fountain at Rancho la PuertaA Fountain of Youth really does exist, and it’s free to you. Just like this TransformAging Summit that’s sponsored by our long-time friends, Rancho la Puerta Resort.  sponsorRegistration is now open, so sign-up here to join us. So easy. Just like many of the active aging secrets we and 5 other fitness experts will share with you.

Have you thought back to movement you used to do and decided “I need something more attainable and less intense now that I am in my second half of life”?  Yet you still want to enjoy all that life has to offer, in a comfortable, sensible way? So have we. As a matter of fact, so many of you have contacted us asking for exactly these sessions, that we gathered up the BEST presenters just for you.

labyrinth at Rancho la PuertaWhy stay in one of the 7 circles of hormone and weight gain hell, when you can stroll the labyrinth of a comfortable life? This six-video collection offers practical strategies to make the second half of life as rewarding as the first. Take at gander at the session titles:

  1. (Re)Starting Fitness After 50 (Twin One and Twin Two)
  2. Never Grow Old! Strategies for Making the NEXT 50 years BETTER than the first! (Dan Ritchie, Phd and Cody Sipe Phd)
  3. Midlife Weight Gain, Hormones, and Menopot: Strategies for Staying Slim Without Losing Your Sanity (Tamara Grand PhD)
  4. Resistance Training: Your After-50 Easy Weight Management Program (Debra Atkinson MS)
  5. Supplementation and Skincare to Transform Aging Inside & Out: What’s Really Needed? (Mo Hagan BSc PT)
  6. Age Be Damned: 7 Dimensions of Active Aging (Colin Milner)

If you’re like Chris O’Dowd in Bridesmaids (love that movie), you’re probably saying, “Really? Really?” by now in a sexy Irish accent because you cannot believe we said you could get all 6 videos for free. But we cannot tell a lie (a different movie altogether) – you get them FREE for 48 hours. That’s 2 days (June 3 & 4), 6 videos, 8 experts, and 1 YOU, gaining access to interviews, practical tips, and easy-to-follow strategies geared specifically toward Over-45 Women.

See the picture just below? That’s Alexandra at Rancho la Puerta a few weeks ago. Does that look like strength training? It is. Does it look fun? It was. Movement is fun. Climbing stuff is fun. Eating well is fun. Going to a spa resort with friends is fun. Hiking through the grove shown below is fun. And all of this liveli-fun-ness is accessible to you too, once you make a few simple changes to your daily habits.

Climbing at Rancho la Puerta

Oh excuse me, but isn’t that Kymberly doing an even livelier version of the post-hike, archway hang? And she’ll hang there until you register for our TransformAging Summit. Please hurry and do so as those rocks can be slippery!

Hanging from R la Pa P arch

Did you Register Right Here yet?

Grove of trees at Rancho la PuertaNow you get some lovely pictures taken at Rancho la Puerta, which is about an hour’s drive east of San Diego. We partnered with them because they are the ideal fitness and health resort for Boomer women. Even if you spend all your time lounging at the pool and getting massages, you’ll still get more fit, thanks to two other key components of active aging that the Ranch offers that have nothing to do with exercise or food. Wonder what those two other things are that can help or hinder your ability to age actively? You’ll have to either go to Rancho la Puerta or attend our webinar series to find out.

pool at Rancho la Puerta

walkway at Rancho la PuertaLet your Inner Fabulosity Bloom. And in case you’re too tired to scroll back up, here is the registration link once again. We invite you to join us on June 3 and 4.

flower at Rancho la Puerta

By Alexandra Williams-MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


I’m Spa-tacus! No, I’m Spa-tacus, and other Spa Industry Trends

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.40.03 PMDo you think the spa industry is growing, staying level, or declining as we enter 2015? For those of you who would enjoy some kind of spa treatment — and who wouldn’t, frankly? — spa and resort trends offer interesting insights into the direction our wellness culture is taking us.

We Feel So Spa-ritual!

Alexandra and I just returned from presenting at the second Tenaya Spa Wellness Retreat. We also presented at their first event, which we summarized in this post. We may not die with a lot of stuff, but we sure are rich in experiences! For one, who would have thought the gateway to Yosemite would be hiking-sandal weather and nearly snowless in mid-January? For another, who knew that smoked sturgeon tasted delicious when braised in tea?

Top Trends in the Spa Industry

Anyway, we drove up through sun, drought, and beautiful pine trees to offer two workouts: Drums Alive and ABC: Abs, Butt, Core and two workshops: Most Common Exercises Done Right and Wrong and 7 Movement Habits to Improve Your Brain Today. As presenters, we had the privilege to take part in the entire retreat. That included hearing American Spa magazine editor, publisher, and keynote speaker, Julie Keller Callaghan speak on Top Trends in the spa world.

Job Seekers Apply Here

Ascent Spa and Alexandra

Alexandra heard of the trend toward indigenous ingredients and started hunting for elderberries. Turns out they were in her bra.

One of the key points Julie made is that the spa industry is growing. No, make that Exploding. Faster than a hot flash in the middle of a public presentation.  As in, if you know people needing career direction, steer them to a resort. It’s not solely baby boomers driving the growth. Just as many people (mostly women, no shocker there) ages 30-50 are going to spas as those 50-70.

Special Can Mean Affordable

I was actually surprised, because, seriously — who has the money to head to spas so often? How can a luxury industry be taking over the wellness world? Turns out one of the trends is what Julie calls “Specialty Solutions,” which are affordable, specific indulgences. If you want just your lashes, hair, or skin treated, you can now find “beauty bars” and express services at mainstream rates, for example. As well, bigger, more expensive spas are branching into shortened and price conscious versions of their traditional offerings. You can now find 3 day or weekend deals at resorts that once were weekly only.

Luxury to Mainstream

tree view at Tenaya Spa

Look up. Look way up. Lie down. Lie way down. Close your eyes and go to sleep instead of taking pictures of squirrels.

Another trend is that the industry is shifting from being considered a luxury to a necessity. More and more of us are heading to the mountains, beaches, jungles, and forests to de-stress, rejuvenate, and catch up on rest. Just as having a personal trainer shifted in the late 90s from the domain of the rich and famous to mainstream middle class clients, so too is the concept of heading to the spa. Because I neeeeeed it!

You Are Feeling Sleepy

A trend Julie coined “Deep Sleep” highlights a solution spa professionals are creating for the 70 million chronically sleep deprived Americans. From having sleep experts on staff to meals devised to enhance relaxation to dream inducing treatments, spas are addressing sleep needs to keep us well and healthy. Budget minded sleepyheads can now nap in special “cabins” that have customizable aromatherapy and sound settings. ZZZZzzzzzzzzzone out for 20-40 minutes for $1 a minute you catnappers!

Soapmaking class at Tenaya Spa

Kymberly was asked to wear a face mask when she was discovered trying to eat the peppermint-scented Tioga Soap.

Get Real, Be Authentic

While American Spa’s editor, Julie covered 10 key trends, I will share just one more big one here: “Keeping It Real.” Spa goers seek authenticity. They — you?– crave experiences unique to a given location. Spas attract guests with ingredients and services indigenous to the region. The Ascent Spa at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is right on top of that trend with its treatments. Many of the soaps, skin care products, oils, and scents they use come from local sources.

I did professional research on their authenticity by booking their “Half Dome (half hour) Hiker’s Delight lower leg massage. It was real all right. So real I went for a brief hike afterward just to test out the full foot effect. Worth it for sure! My feet felt so good I could have gone up Half Dome. (Ok, my knees did not work in harmony with this idea). So back I went to the Ascent Spa for my “thank you for presenting gift” of their Signature Firefall Body Treatment, which pays homage to the Yosemite historic firefall when parkgoers used to throw fires over the waterfall.  A little dangerous, but I am on board to be a trendsetter for that spa treatment!

Outdoors at Tenaya

Is is just us, or is that tree leaning over to hear us whisper the latest spa trends?

And we hope such delight lies in your future and budget. If you have been to spas lately, what trends are you spotting? Which trends do you HOPE kick in so you can take advantage of this booming industry? As for my sister and me, we hope our trend of presenting and teaching at such glorious places continues into the future. I want to be Spa-tacus. Yes, I’m Spa-tacus!

Can you really look 5 pounds thinner in less than 5 minutes? Get our free booklet when you enter your email in the box to the right. If you are already a subscriber, tell your friends. Friends don’t let friends age without sharing active advice.


How Will You Celebrate Your Next Birthday?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Kymberly hanging from atch at R la PExercising My Birthday Rites (of Passage) at Rancho la Puerta

Can you believe that I get to celebrate my 56th birthday with my dear friend from Texas (yee haw!) at Rancho la Puerta fitness resort?! Meantime twinster, Alexandra gets to work at home. Awwwwww. Go ahead feel sorry for her as I did get the better end of that stick! Courtesy of twin friends who teach at the Ranch, I was invited as their guest to stay the week at the place voted numero uno in the mundo for Best Destination Spa. To top off the birthday specialness, one of my favorite authors, Dr. John Ratey, whom sis and I interviewed for our radio show, was presenting at the Ranch this same week.  Oh yes, people, I did bring my copy of his new book, Go Wild for him to sign. He even dripped sweat on it as we had just finished an indoor cycling workout. Geek squeak!

Anyway, the point of this birthday brou-ha-ha is to tell you that this post will be short on text; long on photos. I mean, who wants to spend her b-day on a laptop writing long posts when Rancho la Puerta hikes, aqua workouts, exercise classes, meditation walks, and organic foods call. Not I, said the little red(headed) hen.

May you enjoy the pics below depicting me picturesquely, if not fully picaresquely.

Rancho la Puerta scu;pture

Kymberly on breakfast hike Rancho la Puerta

Motivated to get going on the Breakfast Hike to the organic farm. 4 miles done before 8am Bam!


rancho la puerta

What’s behind door number 56?


Doors to organic garden

Open sesame. And organic gardens filled with healthy food.

Kymberly at arbor

Can you tell I woke at dawn to hike?


rancho lounge

No bad views except in the rear view mirror when leaving


Oak grove, Rancho la Puerta

Can you spot the quail on the Quail Hike? Me neither, but it’s still beautiful.

Ceramic sculpture at the ranch

This sculpture detail made me think of Alexandra on our birthday. Any idea why?


Ranch grapevines

There’s oro in them thar hills. And some grapes in the former running track.

Artwork in the dining hall

Feasting my eyes on yarn/wax artwork in the dining hall.


Swinging from a tree at R la P

And with this final photo, I will leave you hanging.

So how do you plan to celebrate your next birthday?

What was your best birthday yet?

On our birthday list? Having you help spread the word about being active! Please pin the images, and:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.


I Spa. Do You? A Visit to the International Spa Association Media Event at the Beverly Wilshire

Alexandra Williams, MA

ISPA MEDIA invitationSis and I drove to Beverly Hills last Thursday as invited guests of the ISPA Media Event on behalf of the International Spa Association. Twelve different spas were in attendance, offering a variety of treatments and products to us lucky media people. Since many of you have asked us for spa recommendations, we thought we’d share our experiences and info about the companies that were there.

First of all, two of our long-standing favorite spas were in attendance, Rancho la Puerta and Glen Ivy Hot Springs, which has hosted our Christmas family get-together the past two years. (For more on Rancho la Puerta, read our review from last summer). At Thursday’s event, Glen Ivy Spa had a labyrinth you could walk (I didn’t, as I am terrible at being contemplative), plus they sent me home with lavender honey and a recipe for lavender honey muffins, which were popular with some family members; and not so much with the younger set!!

picture of lavender honey muffins

Lavender Honey Muffins

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group gave me a Calm Mind massage, with a focus on my Chinese dominating element of Flourish. This was perfect timing, as I mentioned I was fighting a bit of light vertigo, so the massage therapist worked to loosen up my very tight neck and jaw. I went away less dizzy, which made me very grateful. According to their recommendations, raspberries are one of my healing foods, which suits me perfectly.

I then had a Vitamin C Infusion mini facial from Massage Envy. They are ubiquitous in California and I was surprised to discover they are only eight years old! The woman who gave me my facial looked about 25, yet mentioned a college-aged daughter. Crikey, after that, I told her to do the same to my skin as she was doing to hers. I wish I had taken her picture, as she really did look 20 years younger than she is.

picture of Sheila Cluff, owner of Oaks at Ojai

Sheila Cluff, owner of The Oaks at Ojai


At the Oaks at Ojai booth, I made my very own Italian seasoning, AND met Sheila Cluff, the owner/ founder, who also happens to be a prolific author, fitness icon and ice skater. She’s been in the fitness biz longer than I have! I also stopped at the Matrix booth and test “walked” their latest technology treadmill. I rarely use a treadmill since I love group fitness so much, and find them boring, but this one had lots to keep me occupied, including movies on demand. Mostly I enjoyed chatting with the rep Doug, as he had on crazy blue patterned shoes, mismatched multi-colored socks, and an orange patterned shirt. He said everyone over 50 gets to dress as they please, and age in reverse like Benjamin Button, so I adopted him. A little plug here for fitness – exercise keeps you young. Actually, it can reverse aging in some cases (think dementia, metabolic syndrome, intelligence).

Since fitness is our game, and soccer legs are my, er, legs, I happily hopped on the Travaasa bike and pedaled my way to a kale smoothie. I don’t like chunks in my drinks, so I pedaled till it was smooth. Or till I reached Austin, Texas, where they have a resort! Either way.

Travaasa bike at ISPA Media event

Smooth Ride = Smoothie

New to me was the Sacred Waters massage, which I got from Aspira Spa of Wisconsin. The spa is on a lake considered sacred by its native peoples, and the plants and methods used in the massage were warm and smelled great. The 15 minutes went by way too quickly. I had to feign sleep. They were on to me. Ah, well. Good excuse to visit Wisconsin again.

pic of sacred waters massage at ISPA Media event

Sacred Waters Massage from Aspira Spa




Join us this Wed. June 11, when we welcome Dr. John Ratey, bestselling author of Driven to Distraction and Spark, to discuss his new release Go Wild. Listen and call in at 8:00 am PDT/ 11:00 am EDT or catch the rebroadcast at 8pm PDT the same date at Voice America. He’s just one of many stellar guests on our radio show.


Hiking at Sky Ranch Fitness Spa: My Naughty Dog Story

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Sky Ranch trailAre you ready for a low class poop story to reveal how high class the Sky Ranch Fitness Spa experience is? First, to cut to the chase: If you are looking for a beautiful, healthy, intimate spa getaway that emphasizes hiking, movement classes, personal attention and nutritious meals, this is the place for you. (Read our post asking what your health is worth) Now back to the part of my week that was really stinky!

Last month, Alexandra and I were invited to Santa Barbara County’s newest week long wellness resort. With accommodations at the world class Bacara Resort, and adventures throughout the county, we left Sky Ranch Fitness quite impressed with the level of passion, instructor quality, and commitment to improving guests’ healthy living habits.

My notiebook from Sky Ranch Fitness

They spelled my name right!

Chef's meal Sky Ranch

This smelled great, unlike poop dog!

We especially loved the looooong, calorie burning hikes to places even we had not seen in our 30+ years living in Santa Barbara. Starting our day at 6:15 with a stretch or “foundation” class was worth waking for. Ending the day with a massage, or visit to a local winery for an exclusive dinner with a top level chef made me feel pampered and almost ready to move to a ranch.  Or to have a personal chef at the very least.

However, it was the daily 3 hour hikes I really loved. Ok, maybe at the time as we were going uphill, both ways, in the heat, forever and ever, I might have moaned and whimpered a bit. And sung the Gilligan’s Island song. A Three Hour Tour. From coastline to mountain to meadow, Sky Ranch Fitness Spa took us on trails they had spent months researching and culling to provide the perfect options for a range of guest levels.

Gaviota hike with Sky RanchThe hikes were so lovely and the staff so encouraging, offering so many great water bottles biomechanical walking tips, that a FUN thought occurred to me. Would it be ok to bring Kila princess doggie number one best and most loyal pup in the whole wide world who lives to run and walk and move and groove, as she still needed her daily walk? (Confession – I also did not want to have to miss the Sky Ranch afternoon classes, drive home, and walk Kila after spending the day exercising.) Or would it be tacky and intrusive to be THAT person who had to bring her dog along? So I asked Sky Ranch owner, Stuart Gildred plus checked with the other hikers. who all said “no prob.” Yeah, we had a great group of comrades the week Alexandra and I were at Sky Ranch Fitness! Since Tuesday’s hike took place on owner, Stuart’s private ranch, it seemed the perfect day to pack Kila in the Sky Ranch van and tote her along.

As Kila’s human guardian, I knew she would be easy to control and sweet with other people and animals.  Plus I keep a sharp eye on her as she zips up hill and down dale. Except for that one minute I lost sight of her (possibly due to some heavy breathing on my part on a steep hill that necessitated a “photo opp” stop.) The fink! In fewer than 60 seconds of unsupervised excitement, that rat’s patootie of a pup found the freshest –as in wet, greenish brown, and still fermenting — cow pie ever. And rolled in it. A lot. All over. As in totally covered in sticky, stinky, socially unacceptable poop. Remember we came in a van? How was Mz Stank Thang going to get home?

Best hike dog ever

Scratch, but don’t sniff.

Yes, she and I were facing social pariah status. Here is where you get an example of the level of service the Sky Ranch Fitness Spa offers. As we sweated our way back down the trail to Stuart’s ranch and the van waiting to take us back to an amazing lunch at the Bacara Resort, Stuart came up big! He brought over his hose to wash off some of the semi-dry, half squishy and still wet poop that could have fertilized an entire field.  Then he fetched several towels from his personal stash. Towels I suggested would not recover from the duty they were about to perform. Towels that no human will want to touch ever again despite the cute, pink horsey theme they had going on.

And to top it off, the Sky Ranch staff and Stuart would not let me rinse, stash, pay for, nor burn them. They allowed me to abandon them in the parking lot where they said they’d take care of it. Trust me that these no pink horsies showed through the brown and green layers any more. Like the 1987 movie, these were Untouchables. And Kila was still Unpettable. But van Acceptable.

picture at Bacara running drills

Doing drills outside. I beat the trainer at least once.

My point is that if you go to Sky Ranch Fitness, you will get this level of service, attention, and kindness of heart. From the Bacara maid to the certified fitness instructors to the owner himself, the Sky Ranch staff had our best interests in mind from morning to night.  You will play hard and be rewarded for it. Though it’s only fair that you wash your own poop covered dog.
And now for some pictures of our week to really make you want to come to Santa Barbara! And maybe even to move more than usual as we head into summer.



Hiking near Gaviota

I claim this land as mine!

Hiking near Gaviota

Shh, don’t tell her that my arm is dripping sweat onto her hat.


Hike over to our blog to subscribe and listen to our radio show. Experience some of the best leaders in the health, wellness, and fitness world every Wednesday morning at 8:00 PT/ 11:00am ET. Listen in (better yet, call in to 866-472-5792) to our new radio show Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers with guests who offer practical advice and cutting edge solutions to your active aging challenges. You’ll find us at voiceamerica.com on the Health and Wellness channel.



Looking for Wellness in All the Right Places: Tenaya Lodge Health and Wellness Retreat

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Enter Tenaya here

Enter the zone here

Start saving your money now and clearing your schedule later to make a worthwhile investment in your happiness and well-being. If you have the opportunity, resources, and desire to attend a health retreat, then head to Tenaya Lodge and its Ascent Spa. (Take the stairs, not elevator as the spa is just one floor down).

Tenaya Lodge gift basket

Welcome to Tenaya Lodge Gift Basket

We’re going to let you in on a non-secret so that you can put it on your radar for next season while it’s still easy to obtain a spot–Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite runs a superior Health and Wellness Retreat.

We just got back from presenting at their first retreat of this kind, and we were blown away by the caliber of the services, presenters, and food. Whether you drive in from California or a neighboring state, or fly into Fresno, then drive into the Sierra mountains, it’s worth a trip.

View from Tenaya Suite

Room with a View

Tenaya Lodge sits at the gateway into Yosemite, so we knew the scenery was going to be fabulous. What we didn’t know was that the whole experience would be even more so!

In just 48 hours, we:

Ate copious amounts of amazing food created by chef Frederick Clabaugh, CEC, and attended workshops on:

  • Organic skin care by Kimberly Parry, owner of Kimberly Parry Organics,
  • Fitness trends and effective fitness consumerism by Jen Ator, fitness editor of Women’s Health magazine,
  • Tea tasting, history, and knowledge by Donna and Tai Tokugawa, owners of Chado-En Tea Docents, and
  • an Interactive cooking class with chefs Freddie and Didier (yup, he was French). We made pannacotta and sushi. We won’t mention that we rolled one so large that the chef called it a sandwich!
Presenting Posture session at Tenaya

Before I took my own posture advice.

Zann drums

Color to beat the drums about

Kymberly presented an edu-taining seminar, Great Gait and Powerful Posture, while Alexandra wore hot pink shorts to lead a rousing Drums Alive class. Oh, did we mention the 90 minute massage we each got? Or the nature hike where we tasted lichen, flowers, berries and pine needles? Hint – the sushi was better.



Kymberly feels lifted at Tenaya

Stumped for good places to visit? Head to Tenaya Lodge. Bring us!

From the gift basket and personal note at arrival, to the boxed snacks that included San Pellegrino limonata at departure, the entire experience had flourishes and flair. Heck, they even put Kymberly into a room with a jacuzzi tub. Her suite was bigger than the cabin she lived in for eight years, but we won’t remind her of those dark days!

We heard a rumor that Tenaya Lodge might run another retreat in the Fall, so you might want to sign up for their newsletter so you’ll be notified of the dates. We know you take our recommendations seriously, and we say with full confidence that this was a very high-class event at an affordable price.

Follow us to Tenaya (and our upcoming massage)

Follow us to Tenaya (and our upcoming massage)

Disclosure: We were not paid anything to share our opinions, though we did receive the entire retreat as a thank you for the workshops we led. At no point were we asked to write anything except our own truth.

Experience some of the best leaders in the health, wellness, and fitness world every Wednesday morning at 8:00 PT/ 11:00am ET. Listen in (better yet, call in to 866-472-5792) to our new radio show Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers with guests who offer practical advice and cutting edge solutions to your active aging challenges. You’ll find us at voicemaerica.com on the Health and Wellness channel.




Table decor at Tenaya

Even the table decor was healthy and creative

Yosemite views

Snow! Probably brought in especially for us!

Personalized cooking instructions to take home.

Personalized cooking instructions to take home.


Fashion apron gift from Tenaya

Fashion apron gift from Tenaya


Ascend to Ahhhhh at the Ascent Spa

Ascend to Ahhhhh at the Ascent Spa